The snow-coated landscape looked eerily apocalyptic with wind whistling as we both trudged through knee-deep white powder. We’d occasionally catch swaying tree branches from the corner of our eyes. Like apparitions.

Cars so buried we could make out only their outlines. Like a gift-wrapped basketball.

Not a soul in sight. This normally busy subdivision lined with kids walking home from school, cars playing rock-paper-scissors in the intersection, and other random acts of living…was finally silent.

In a creepy hair-raising way…

Our trek ended at the local Giant grocery store. An attendant paused. Watched us, the only customers they’d had most of the evening, casually walk up.

The shelves looked barren

“People lose their minds,” another attendant checking us out chimed in as we made him aware of the barren shelves. “And we just re-stocked! You should have seen them yesterday”, he continues in a heavy Caribbean accent. “Grabbing bread and milk like the end of the world.”

So began our North American Blizzard of 2009 experience…complete with its freshly minted Wikipedia page. A trek to the grocery store to stock up for one day was needed because our flight out of the US had been canceled that night.
Gratefully, we did make it out and up north to Swedish Lapland just in time for God Jul, much heavier snow, mucus-freezing weather, mulled wine called glögg and Jultomten – the Christmas Gnome or Santa Claus.

With so many travel plans canceled and hearts broken over this holiday season, the key emotion I’m feeling at the moment is pure, unadulterated gratitude to be able to spend it with family…old and new.

Here are just a few photographs from 200+ shots.

First time in a long time I’ve enjoyed a tree with extended family. My artificial fircus tree with lights permanently intertwined in it all year round was finally retired.

Jultomten makes an appearance. I observe.

My very first Christmas Smörgåsbord

The extended family-owned cat that reinforced my preference for dogs.

The town of Luleå gets into the festive spirit.

While everywhere else in Northern Sweden looked like this.